Bright Light Bright Light, the electropop incarnation of Welshman-in-London-and-sometimes-New-York-City Rod Thomas, is back. The debut album Make Me Believe In Hope, which attracted celebrity fans from Elton John to the Scissor Sisters, matched his smooth yet distinctly recognisable vocals, talent for melodic composition and a love of ’90s dance music and featured the singles Moves, Waiting For The Feeling and Love Part Two.
The follow-up album is Life Is Easy. Inspired by a six month sojourn in NYC, featuring Elton John on the track I Wish We Were Leaving and led off with the single and EP An Open Heart, the new record focuses on how you learn to appreciate what you’ve got and make the most of your days. “The record is based around the idea of missing the bigger picture,” explains Rod, “how it’s easy to forget to look around you and see what you have. The songs are about family, friends and lovers and what it is about them you love, hate, miss, remember and keep with you.”
Ahead of Life Is Easy’s release Rod flipped through his record collection to compile a list to the albums that influenced him most for his This Music Made Me…
My joint favourite album (with ‘The Sensual World’), ‘Behaviour’ is something I discovered I liked at the time but really fell in love with later in life when I really understood the beauty of the production and the quiet majesty of the record.
‘My October Symphony’ and ‘Being Boring’ are two of my favourite Pet Shop Boys songs. I can never listen to this album just once, it’s always repeated. I think on this beautiful, vulnerable, and very human record, Neil and Chris really won me over and made me slip forever into their songwriting.
For me, it has the perfect balance of humour, sadness, sentimentality, obscurity and fragility. Such a beautiful album.
While my perception of Kate as a child was tied to ‘Wuthering Heights’, ‘Babooshka’ and ‘Running Up That Hill’, for me, ‘The Sensual World’ is Kate at her most magic.
From the, fittingly, sensual “yes” breaths in the title track, to the utter beauty of ‘This Woman’s Work’ and ‘Never Be Mine’, the album pulsates with this enormous warmth and charm. ‘Love And Anger’ is my favourite Kate song I think. I am so completely in love with that song – its chord changes, her incredible vocals, the video … while ‘The Dreaming’ is much more obviously bizarre and singular, I think that this album is what sets her apart from others for me. It sounds like the songs always existed, they just feel so natural. I will never grow tired of this record.
I was very intrigued by Björk on the singles from Debut, but it was ‘Army Of Me’ that really made me follow her, and from the first time I heard ‘Hyperballad’, which I think is one of the best songs of all time, I knew I’d been won over.
This album sounds miraculously modern even today, and even though every song has totally different style, structure and production, the album flows perfectly and I don’t think I ever questioned that it worked. Who would ever let an album like this be released as a major pop album today?
Björk did something really spectacular as a “pop” artist and bent a language, frankensteined styles and teased the best out of producers like nobody else could do. So very special.
When I first heard ‘Barrel Of A Gun’ on the Chart Show I was like “oh my god who is this”. I’d never seen a picture of them even though I knew almost all of the Depeche Mode singles.
I was obsessed with this album, its singles, packaging (the front cover being the back of the CD jewel case – why!) and at the time I had no idea of the turbulence that had led to its creation. I’m a huge fan of the band, and while it’s not necessarily made up of ALL my favourite Depeche Mode songs, I think this record is really beautiful.
‘Home’ is one of my favourites. I forgot until I saw them live in New York in 2009 how much I love that song. The production on this album definitely pushed me with my own – I wanted to understand how to blend sounds as well as this and make a world this dark and this beautiful.
Of course I thought I was being super controversial asking my Mum to buy me a CD with a woman suckling a pig on the cover. How very teenage.
I loved the lead single ‘Caught A Lite Sneeze’ but I had no idea how much buying the record would do for my thoughts on songwriting. ‘Mr Zebra’, ‘Putting The Damage On’ and ‘Hey Jupiter’ were on constant repeat on my headphones whenever I could put them on.
While actually ‘From The Choirgirl Hotel’ influenced my production much more than this record, it was when I first fell for Tori and embraced lyrics I didn’t understand in the slightest as catchy and just as singable as any chart song.
First album I ever bought so it has to go in there. I still listen to it a lot.
And actually some of the album tracks are my favourites, not the singles. ‘Dancer In A Daydream’ has a killer synth bass line, ‘Fashion Party’ is absurd but quite brilliant, ‘Young And Proud’ is SO good… they really captured a moment in time, didn’t they.
I thought the singles would be it really, I remember at the time thinking “I won’t buy the album because I’ve only heard two songs” but I did and I was so surprised to like it all. Especially given the quality of some singles artists’ albums at the time. I really think Ace Of Base have some pop gold moments on this album.
I was obsessed with Dubstar. I loved Sarah’s accent making the songs undeniably from England. I loved the risqué artwork and the kitsch colours.
I loved the dreaminess of ‘Stars’ and the camp of ‘Anywhere’ (which I heard on Radio 1’s Top 40 countdown and had NO idea who it was and was devastated not to know until I bought their album) but also the desolate nature of ‘Week In Week Out’ and their brilliant cover of ‘St Swithin’s Day’.
They were my favourite kind of pop at the time – weird, campy, uncool, but catchy as hell, colourful, summery and with tons of B-sides that I could collect on all the formats you could imagine in great packaging so I could be the music equivalent of a stamp collector.
Remember when you signed up to those BMG mailing cards? Sometimes you got sent promo cassettes. I got a load that were shit, but this Shea Seger one came and I loved it.
‘Clutch’ is the hit that never was, unbelievably. I know quite a few people who all really, really love that song. For me, she’s become an artist that links lots of good people. The album has some great bawdy, bluesy moments like ‘I Can’t Lie’, ‘The Last Time’ was a GREAT first single and ‘I Love You Too Much’ was a really subtle blend of electronica and folk tinged roots.
I love her voice on this album, she sounds like she’s really going full throttle on some of the delivery. A forgotten gem.
Iceland has given us some really special artists hasn’t it? This album from Emiliana Torrini was a real influence to me.
‘Sea People’, the closing track, is one of the most beautiful songs I’ve heard to this day. In its meager 1 minute and 13 seconds it broke my heart and really whisked me away to a different world. It’s actually why I wrote ‘Debris’, trying to see if I could express something in a short song with no verse and chorus structure.
From start to finish though, this album is superb. And It always killed me that ‘To Be Free’ was one place away from being a Top 40 single, it’s such an incredible song. The production is SO good on this album.
Contrary to what everyone built me to expect, I didn’t find my time at University a joyful, crazy, finding myself experience. I felt quite lost there and couldn’t wait to leave.
I did a radio show with a good friend though, and when we first heard the ‘Laura’ promo we LOVED it so played them every show. Scissor Sisters actually played my leaving ball (along with Ash and Amy Winehouse …!!!) and watching them live was a real “OK! So THIS is what you can aim for on stage! Let’s have fun!” experience, so I spent the next few years putting in the house gigging as much as I could to be as confident on stage as they were.
Their album really marked the end of university for me, and the start of a new life moving to London, working in music, and putting everything into music. Almost every track on this record soundtracked so many happy memories for me, and all my friends at the time seemed to feel the same. And now, they’re some of my closest friends in New York and I’m in a band with one of them and count him as one of my very best friends. It’s very, very weird the way the world works sometimes!
Bright Light Bright Light’s second album Life Is Easy is out through Self Raising on 7 July 2014. He plays London’s Cargo on 1 July. Further tour dates and information on Bright Light Bright Light can be found here.